A Travel Guide to Visiting Vieques, Puerto Rico

This Caribbean island has secluded white-sand beaches and a bioluminescent lagoon — no passport required.

On the island of Vieques, not a single lamppost stands between leafy, tropical hillsides and some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean. Wild horses range free, waters glimmer with bioluminescence, and dramatic black dunes greet visitors to a Caribbean island that has evaded the test of time.

Vieques is located just six miles off the coast of Puerto Rico and is a part of this U.S. territory, but in many respects, these islands couldn't be more distinct. "Puerto Rico has an infectious vitality and vibrancy. But there's nothing like the deep connection to nature and profound tranquility you'll find in Vieques," says Sylvia DeMarco, the proprietor of the boutique hotel Finca Victoria located in the verdant center of the island.

An increased flight capacity to the Caribbean is making reaching Vieques simpler than ever - no passport required for U.S. travelers. Read on for the insider guidance you'll need to plan a vacation to the island that feels a world away.

Best Hotels and Resorts

Vieques has none of the chain hotels or beach accommodations located in Puerto Rico, and it's all the better for it. Instead, minuscule guesthouses and a slew of new boutique properties offer travelers an intimate connection to the island.

Finca Victoria

Finca Victoria — Hotel Review | Condé Nast Traveler

Perched on a verdant plateau in the center of Vieques, Finca Victoria is a modern retreat inextricably intertwined with nature. This 14-room boutique hotel offers accommodations spanning from tree houses and cottages to a vintage airstream, all with a healthy dosage of casual Caribbean flair and available for brief stays or extended ayurvedic retreat experiences. This property made T+L's list of the finest new hotels in the world the year it debuted.

El Blok

El Blok has the laid-back attitude of a Caribbean resort with all the flair of a modern, design-forward metropolitan hotel. Steps from the shore and the oceanfront promenade in the middle of the vibrant village of Esperanza, El Blok is in the center of all the island's action. The hotel's rooftop pool and bar offer panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, making it one of the finest locations in Vieques to observe the sunset with a beverage in hand.

Hacienda Tamarindo

Sweeping ocean vistas and tropical breezes await at Hacienda Tamarindo, a small but formidable bed-and-breakfast elevated above the coasts of southern Vieques. A swimming pool and substantial tropical breakfast are some of the benefits of a stay, but the courteous service at this family-focused accommodation is the true highlight.

Things to Do

Kayak in bioluminescent Mosquito Bay

13 Tips for the Fajardo Bioluminescent Bay Tour in Puerto Rico -  TravelAwaits

The most famous attraction in Vieques is Mosquito estuary, where phosphorescent plankton transform the waters into a sea of blue light at what is considered the most vivacious bioluminescent estuary in the world. Local tour operators guide visitors by kayak through the luminous waters for an experience that can only be described as enchanting. Many travelers visit Vieques just to experience this phenomenon, though it's just the start of the island's natural marvels.

Sail, swim, and snorkel

Getting out on the water is the finest way to experience the island of Vieques. Vieques is also home to numerous distinct diving locations, making it a sanctuary for PADI-certified travelers. Local insiders from PADI recommend visiting Angel Reef, home to nearly pristine coral where divers can spot old Spanish anchors embedded among the rocks.

Hit the shore

Even the island’s most idyllic shorelines are virtually deserted during the peak season. DeMarco recommends Punta Arenas on the island's northwest coast, as well as Caracas Beach, which earned a spot on T+L's list of the finest beaches in the Caribbean. Visitors can't travel to Vieques without visiting the aptly named Playa Negra, where jet-black sand sets it apart from the rest of the island's pristine white shoreline.

Taste local brandy

No journey to the Caribbean is complete without sampling the local liquor. Sample the local spirits at Crab Island Rum Distillery, the tiny yet remarkable operation that was the first-ever artisan rum distillery on Vieques. Take a tour or drop into the distillery's shop from Thursday through Saturday between 12 and 8 p.m. The celebration really gets underway on Saturdays, when live music is also on offer.

Reset on a wellness retreat

Finca Victoria is home to more than just stunning boutique accommodations; it's also the first and only ayurvedic retreat space in the Caribbean. The hotel's bespoke panchakarma retreats last for a transformative 7-10 days, but the facility is open for massages, medicinal baths, and Chinese medicine treatments even for those who aren't staying there.

Best Restaurants

El Quenepo

EL QUENEPO, Esperanza - Restaurant Reviews, Photos & Phone Number -  Tripadvisor

Located on the beachfront in Esperanza, El Quenepo offers one of the few exquisite dining experiences on Vieques. An insistence on using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and the breezy, open-air dining space with Caribbean Sea views keeps it welcoming and tropical. El Quenepo is accessible from Tuesday through Saturday, and reservations are required.


Hotel El Blok's restaurant Placita is among the most well-respected establishments in Vieques. Executive cook Alex Espinal offers a menu of modern Puerto Rican cuisine that varies frequently based on the daily capture and ingredients available from local suppliers. The restaurant is open from Thursdays to Mondays, and reservations are recommended.

Tin Box

Hidden behind an inconspicuous corrugated steel facade, Tin Box is an island favorite serving up the unusual combination of delectable barbeque and fresh sashimi. It's a formula that somehow works flawlessly to maintain a full house at this roadside institution. Calypso evenings — on Mondays during peak season — are among Vieques' finest live music events.


Located along the seaside promenade in Esperanza, Bananas feels like the casual beach restaurant every traveler is searching for in a Caribbean vacation. Classic Puerto Rican dishes like mofongo excel, while contemporary favorites like fish tacos and coconut flan are menu highlights.

Areas To Visit

"It's impossible to understand the island's unique makeup and geography without understanding its past," shares DeMarco. In the 1940s, the U.S. Navy converted almost half of the island into a naval facility, leaving residents with just a tiny section of land in the central third of the island. "This led to a more vibrant and populated section of Vieques, and two undeveloped but beautiful ends on either side, which is a makeup that remains today."

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

When the U.S. Navy began to abandon operations on Vieques in 2001, the lands they left behind became the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. Occupying almost half of the island, the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is considered the most ecologically diverse wildlife refuge in the Caribbean. "The beaches here remain quite untouched and very pristine, a small benefit of a dark history," says DeMarco.


Located on the southern coast of Vieques, Esperanza is a modest community with loads to see and do. The oceanfront promenade, known as the malecón, is the center of Esperanza, home to some of the finest beachfront restaurants on the island and a scattering of small guesthouses and hip hotels like El Blok. Proximity to many of the island's finest beaches and the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay makes Esperanza an appealing base for travelers.

Isabel Segunda

The administrative center of Vieques, Isabel Segunda is located on the northern coast of the island. Home to the island's airport and ferry terminal, Isabel Segunda is most visitors' point of arrival on Vieques. While Isabel Segunda has plenty in the way of stores and conveniences, most travelers prefer to pass through on their journey to Esperanza and the beaches of the island's southern coast.

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Vieques is between December and April, when the days are comparatively breezier and sunny skies and clear waters are the norm. Though this is the peak tourism season on the island, locals affirm that Vieques never feels congested like some neighboring Caribbean islands do. Prices are higher at this time of year, but the vibrant atmosphere and ideal weather are well worth it.

While May through August have a higher possibility of rainy weather, it is an affordable and tranquil shoulder season worth contemplating for a trip. During these months, you'll find mostly residents from the main island of Puerto Rico who know what a delightful season this can be for exploring Vieques.

September and October are the island’s low season; these months are also the height of the Atlantic hurricane season. Prices will be at their lowest, but many restaurants and hotels shutter for renovation, maintenance, or a much-deserved break during these peaceful months.